Purpose of this blog

Dmitry Yudo aka Overlord, jack of all trades
David Lister aka Listy, Freelancer and Volunteer

Sunday, February 27, 2022

The Bridge

Over the years (soon to be decades!) I have been writing these articles I have focused on a great many items to bridge elements of the story, be it a tank, warship, location or even weapon system. But today, to span the passage of time, I am going to focus on a bridge. Waterloo Bridge to be exact. 


Waterloo Bridge is actually the second bridge over the Thames to stand at this location. The first bridge, made of stone, was opened in June 1817. It was called the Strand Bridge. Over the years the flow of water around the piers caused the mud of the riverbed to be worn away. This caused the Strand Bridge to become undermined, and by the 1923 the middle of the bridge had settled and warped the structure. In 1925 a temporary metal bridge was constructed to take southerly traffic and ease the strain on the main bridge.  As the Strand Bridge was considered a work of art, an argument broke out on what to do with it. Some were for maintaining it like you would any other culturally and historically important fine house or building. Others, headed by the London Country Council (LCC) wanted to tear it down and build a new modern structure. In 1934 the LCC was taken over by the Labour Party, and had a new leader, Herbert Morrison. This is the same Morrison that would design the Morrison Air Raid Shelter of which some half a million would be made during the Second World War. The new LCC decided to knock the Strand Bridge down and build a new structure. Morrison broke the first stone signalling start of the work that same year. 

Morrison Shelter showing what it can do.

By the outbreak of the Second World War the bridge was not completed. As more men enlisted the work of construction moved to female workers, and it gave Waterloo Bridge it’s nickname, ‘Ladies Bridge’. A late modification to the bridge was to include recesses for explosives in the pillars, this was to enable it to be demolished should the Germans approach.

The Germans did approach on the 19th of April 1941, when during the Blitz a German bomb hit the nearly complete Waterloo Bridge. There were only two London bridges hit during the Second World War, Waterloo and Kew Bridge. The latter occurred when a German bomber was attacked by RAF fighters, and it dumped its bombs. A bomb hit the centre of Kew Bridge, but was only a small bomb, as the Germans were want to drop, resulting in a small hole in the road way and some shrapnel damage to the massive stone blocks, which is still visible today. 

Splinter damage on Kew Bridge

The Germans came close again in 1944 when a V-2 impacted into the Thames just to the east of Waterloo Bridge, but again with no effect.

On 7th of September 1978 Georgi Markov was waiting at a bus stop when he felt a sharp pain on the back of his thigh. Spinning around he saw a man who had just dropped an umbrella. The man picked up his umbrella and hurriedly crossed the road and got into a taxi.  Markov was a Bulgarian dissident and would die four days later from an unknown poison that many suspect to be Ricin. This was the infamous Bulgarian Umbrella assassination.

As you can see Waterloo Bridge has seen its own share of events over the years. 


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